Waylander 2: In The Realm of the Wolf by David Gemmell

By way of introductory remarks, I’d like to state that In The Realm of the Wolf might be the most metal album worth title I’ve read all year, and reviewing David Gemmell’s Waylander sequel is getting seriously held up by my urge to come up with Maiden-esque worship riffs every time I even think of In The Realm of the Wolf.

You think I’m joking but I’m really not, if I can come up with some lyrics I might sing this whole thing really badly and send it to some friends. I’ve got too many of ’em, got to drive ’em off somehow.

Ahem. The book.

I try to save David Gemmell reviews for when I’m low (although today is just a shortage of other inspiration). They take little effort and cheer me up. At heart, they’re all the same – emotionally scarred warriors do insane things because they’re emotionally scarred and somehow take down the monsters. People are complex and mixes of good and bad, but good wins. The stories are told with a laconic, driving matter of factness that ramps up the drama and keeps the pages turning. It is a mix of reality and fantasy I find immensely appealing, and the question is always whether this exact mix is merely very good or absolutely excellent.

This exact offering features the antihero assassin Waylander being jerked out of retirement by the news his daughter was murdered by a powerful man’s son without punishment. Being who he is, he sets out to kill. With him is his other daughter, a former arena fighter he’s hired to teach her swordplay, and a couple of assassins who came after Waylander but have switched sides. The group gets split however, with most of them going to save a Nadir tribe from a genocidal raid that could alter the future, leaving Waylander just how he likes it – alone with someone to hunt.

The result is a somewhat fragmented narrative that could have benefited for more time to breathe. I’ve completely failed to mentioned various PoVs and arcs we see in the book, so it’s even more crowded than I suggest. A lot of plot-propelling deaths don’t affect the characters all that much either, and Gemmell’s work was always at its best when the emotions ran as hot as the action.

There are plus points to In The Realm of the Wolf beyond it being a banging heavy metal album waiting to happen. The arena fighter Angel’s journey to becoming less racist is well done, as is the priest Ekodas’ struggle with faith. Gemmell doesn’t delve deep into either strand, but they’re there. Waylander’s other daughter, Miriel, gets a prominent role and when she is not being her father’s daughter, she is going through the struggles of awakening sexuality. I don’t know if it’s got right, but it’s given consideration and validity and adds humanity. The characters are all very enjoyable to read about now I mention it; very human.

Still, I can’t shake the feeling this is more in the merely very good part of the spectrum. That this is more enjoyable romp than utterly absorbing tale of humanity packaged in an enjoyable romp. But I enjoyed it, and I hope you will too.

3 thoughts on “Waylander 2: In The Realm of the Wolf by David Gemmell

  1. Great review, I’m a huge Waylander fan! Drenai is is one of my favorite series ever. I read the books before I was writing fiction, and reading through your review makes me want to go back and re-read the series with a closer eye to look for some of the things you pointed out. And you’re so right, so metal! Excited to go back and read the previous posts you have on Gemmell.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh man, don’t do this to me and make me choose! Waylander, is my tops. It hits all the right buttons for me. BUT many close in 2nd place – The Legend of Deathwalker, The Kind Beyond the Gate, First Chronicles are big ones for me too. The Troy books are in a world unto themselves but I love them too. I think a re-read is in order for me, maybe early next year.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s